Oregon St. took down 7th ranked Arizona tonight, after Langston Morris-Walker, who had made the first basket of the game, also made the last one, a layup line layin to go up 58-56 with half a minute to go, below.
TJ McConnell missed the shot to tie the game, and the tenacious Beaver defense prevented a put-back attempt from ever getting put back.
Oregon St. had lost their last 23 in a row against top 10 competition, including 10 to Arizona. But if they were to break through, it was bound to be at the 'Cats expense. Their last such win came almost 15 years, ago, when Deaudra Tanner sank a 3 pointer at the buzzer in overtime for a 70-69 win, coincidentally also over Arizona. In fact, this was Oregon State's 6th upset win over an Arizona team in the top 25, and 4th when the 'Cats were in the top 10.
The game was a battle all the way, with 2 different 4 point leads, both by Oregon St., one just past the middle of the first half, and the other one with a minute and a half, the most out of hand the game ever got.
The first one came when Olaf Schafternaar, who was questionable for the game after twisting his left ankle early in the second half of Oregon St.'s 55-47 win over Arizona St. on Thursday, but started and went the distance tonight, buried the first of his 3 3 pointers to cap a 7-0 run, which put the Beavers up 14-10, and forced Arizona Coach Sean Miller into a timeout with just under 9 minutes left in the first half.
That act alone would prove crucial, as Arizona would run out of time outs with over a minute left in the game, and could not use one to set up for a shot to either win the game or extend the game into overtime.
The 'Cats struggled offensively against the Beavers' 2-3 zone all night, and especially in the first half. Arizona's problem was compounded by the fact that Stanley Johnson, their leading scorer, sat most of the first half, after picking up 2 fouls in less than 3 minutes to start the game.
The 'Cats would suffer a 7 minute scoring drought, on their way to their lowest scoring output of any first half this season, though they would take a 21-20 lead to the locker room.
The main reasons for that were foul related, as Rondae Hollis-Jeferson hit 5 of 7 from the line before the break, whereas Arizona wasn't whistled for another foul after Johnson's pair for over 13 minutes, and Oregon St. didn't get to the free throw line until early in the second half.
With his father Gary Payton Sr. watching, Gary Payton II, above, had put Oregon St ahead with a basket to open the second half, and had 6 of his 10 points to energize the Beavers.
"The first five minutes of each half against a team like this you have to draw a line in the sand and dig in, otherwise it gets rough," Oregon St. head coach Wayne Tinkle said. "Our guys did that."
But the 'Cats consistently matched the energy, and the scoring, largely from McConnel, who had 13 on the night, and more free throws from Hollis-Jefferson, who eventually had a game high 14 points, mostly due to his 10 of 13 free throw shooting.
Arizona went up 36-35, on the 15th of what would eventually be 20 lead changes in the game shortly before the midway mark of the second half, but Victor Robbins came off the Oregon St. bench, as the Beavers battled foul trouble that would eventually see 3 players finish with 4 fouls, and scored the next 6 Oregon St. points.
Schaftenaar, above, sank another 3, this one from the left corner, to tie the game at 44 apiece with under 8 minutes to go, and as importantly, prompted Miller into another time out to discuss considering defending the 6'10" jump shooter (remember, the 'Cats would run out of time outs when they most needed one).
McConnell would answer, and put Arizona back ahead, and it looked like Arizona might seize control when Payton was called for a 5 second turnover when he couldn't get the ball in bounds coming out of the timeout.
But after the 'Cats went up by 3, Morris-Walker responded with a 3 to tie the game at 47 with 6 minutes to go.
Johnson answered with a 3, and Miller took yet another time out with 5:37 still to go, leaving him with only 1.
Coach Tinkle took advantage of the extra coaching opportunity, and turned to Malcolm Duvivier who went on a personal 4-0 run to regain the lead for the Beavers.
The latter 2 were on free throws that started a stretch where the Beavers made 5 free throws in a stretch of 7 points, capped by Duvivier's driving 2+1 that opened the other 4 point lead of the game, making it 56-52.
Free throwing was crucial for Oregon St., after being frozen off of the line in the first half, as the Beavers buried 13 of 17 from the line in the second half. That didn't match Arizona's 18 of 27 night at the line, but it came close enough to keep the contest close.
Gabe York's 3 pointer pulled Arizona back within 1 point with 1:07 to go, when Miller used his final time out, and after back to back misses on the other end, Duvivier picked up his 4th foul.
But Hollis-Jefferson, hot all night at the line, made only the first free throw, tying the game, and setting the stage for Morris-Walker's basket that turned out to be the game winner.
"This means a lot," Robbins said amidst the Beaver Dam storming the court post-game. "Everybody came out here and helped a lot. We just ground it out on D(efense); this was about everyone working hard."
"It was a crazy moment," Morris-Walker added. "Beaver Nation came out strong, and we fed off their momentum the whole game."
A season high for men's basketball crowd of 6,191 was on hand for the upset, on what turned out to be a very good
night weekend to be a Beaver.
While the Oregon St. defense earned a lot of praise, holding Arizona to 38% shooting from the field, including 4 of 17 on 3s, the Beaver offense also not only came through when needed, they did so by shooting 51% from the floor for the game, including 5 of 11 on 3s, the first team that the 'Cats haven't held under 50% for a game since the 1996-97 season.
Oregon St. successfully defended their home court, and is still unbeaten at Gill Coliseum this year in 10 games, and improved to 11-4 for the season, and 2-1 in the Pac-12, while Arizona slipped to 14-2, and are also 2-1 in conference, though for now, the Beavers own the tie-breaker over the 'Cats. (WAY WAY too early to think about that, but its a nice little factoid for OSU for the moment.)
"I am super proud of our guys, they are the ones who won this game," Tinkle said. "They made the plays on both end."
"This is great but we don't want this year to be about beating Arizona," Tinkle added. "We've still got a lot stuff in front of us."
Schaftenaar came up 1 point short of joining Morris-Walker and Payton in double digits, with 9 on his 3 of 5 3 point shooting, and Payton just missed a double double, but still had a game high 9 rebounds. Payton also had 3 assists, 2 steals, and a blocked shot.
Hollis-Jefferson's game high 14 points and McConnel's 13 were the only double digit stats for Arizona, as York came up a point short, with 9. Johnson was held to just 7.
Daniel Gomis, above also came up big, even though he only recorded 6 points. 2 came on an acrobatic move early in the game to generate momentum, and 2 came on a pair of free throws shortly after he had turned his ankle saving an errant pass almost at mid-court.
Oregon St. hits the road this week, for games at Washington Thursday night, and Washington St. Saturday night, both 6 PM starts.
(Photos via SB Nation, via USA Today sports)